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A day in Harlem with ‘Black Nativity’

Art Shiran and Paul Zapata | 11/21/2013, 3:47 p.m.
"Black Nativity" Scene

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Paul M. Zapata Photos

Writer and director Kasi Lemmons

Last night, we soaked up the soulful vibes of Harlem as the swinging hamlet welcomed the cast and crew of director Kasi Lemmons’ holiday musical “Black Nativity.”

The crisp November morning started in the spirit of giving with Jacob Latimore (who is the lead in the Fox Searchlight Pictures film) rallying the people of Harlem together in the holiday spirit of love, family and community at the Harlem Village Academies High School, followed by the commencement of Harlem United’s winter clothing drive. Community members can stop by and donate new blankets, gloves, scarves, hats and coats for men, women and children. Latimore will donate a set of “Black Nativity” blankets to the homeless shelter.

Later that night, it was on to the star-studded red carpet premiere, held at the world-famous Apollo Theater. Joining the well-attired cast on the red carpet were Antonio Banderas and Sting. At the invitation-only screening, the musical received a warm reception and the chatter afterward was about the rousing and convincing performance that Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker delivered as the minister and how well his co-star Angela Bassett sang.

These are high Harlem praises for the two, because they held their own, musically, with vocal powerhouse and Academy Award winner Jennifer Hudson. Hudson is so luminous on-screen, and in person, she’s down-to-earth and inspirational.

She inspires me to be fearless and creative, and judging from the crowd’s positive reaction to her performance, many others felt equally moved! “Black Nativity” opens Nov. 27.